Friday, September 11, 2009

Today I remember Stephen J. Cangialosi

Stephen J. Cangialosi was forty years old the day he woke his wife to kiss her good bye, tell her he loves her, and leave for work as a bond trader at Cantor Fitzgerald in WTC Tower 1 on the 104th floor.

Today I am forty years old. This morning I woke my wife to kiss her goodbye, told her I loved her and left for work as well. The difference is I get to go home.

Stephen can not.

Eight years after September 11, I am only now learning who this man was. Today I signed up to be a part of Project 2,996, a group of bloggers each taking one victim of 9/11 and remembering them on this day. Coming late to this project, I didn’t have a lot of time to investigate who Stephen was.

I did learn that Stephen J. Cangialosi will be remembered for "The Shirt." Yes, he was a devoted father of two boys, a husband, loyal friend, successful bond trader at Cantor Fitzgerald and a die-heart Yankees fan.

But it was "The Shirt."

For years, he made fun of his Georgetown University classmate, Andy Stearns, for wearing a stained, plaid, late-1970's shirt with wide lapels throughout college. To get him back, Mr. Stearns wrapped it, threw a bow on the box and gave it to him as a gift. Not to be outdone, Mr. Cangialosi wrapped it in a big box with a bow and gave it back. That went on for about 17 years. It would turn up on holidays, birthdays and anniversaries.

We all have our horrible memories of that day. I was stuck in St. Louis that morning, getting ready to fly home to Michigan. When the attack happened, I tried to call my wife, but all I got were “circuits are busy” recordings. She worked in an office building in downtown Detroit at the time. The frustration of not knowing if she was alright still haunts me.

Stephen's wife Karen believes that her husband tried to call her at 9 a.m. "The phone rang, but when I got to the phone, no one was there," she said. Someone else called, telling her to turn on the television. Then she tried to call her husband at his office and on his cell phone, but got no answer. "He was just always smiling, happy, upbeat, so positive about life," his wife said. "I feel lucky to have loved him for the past 20 years. He gave me two wonderful children. He loved being a dad. That was his favorite job in the world."

I am honored to be able to remember Stephen Cangialosi today. When I get home I will be sure to give my wife a huge hug, kiss her and tell her she is the most important person in my life.

I am lucky to be able to do so.

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